20:20 — 20 questions, 20 answers
Published November 27, 2020
In part 13 of our series,
Chandler Holt —founding member of Chatham County Line—
shares about writing “Winter’s Night Waltz,” his newest project. We’re pleased to present the song to you along with Chandler’s Q&A. Just released November 20, “Winter’s Night Waltz” is described as “a classic male/female duet.” Lauren Stovall of The Railsplitters and By the Lee joins Chandler in the vocals of this warming, seasonal song.
Spend some time with us getting to know Chandler Holt and listen to “Winter’s Night Waltz,” preferably with some warm cider and the scent of something wonderful cooking.
Photo by Lewis Geyer
20:20 with Chandler Holt
NWM 1): Please introduce yourself, briefly, as a musician and human of Earth.
Chandler: Greeting Earthlings! I’m Chandler Holt, and I’m a songwriting/banjo picking/baritone singing dude that also likes to do a bunch of other cool things. I currently live in Longmont, Colorado, with my wife and 6-year-old son.
NWM 2): Name three things that make you smile.
Chandler: Anything having to do with classic bluegrass, country, jazz, or rock! Hooking a trout in any stream in the beautiful Rockies. At this point in 2020, just being able to hang out with friends and family any way safely possible.
NWM 3): Your latest project is a new single that dropped November 20th, “Winter’s Night Waltz,” on which you teamed up with Lauren Stovall of The Railsplitters and By The Lee. How did that collaboration come about? And tell us about the song.
Chandler: I was fortunate enough to get to record a project with Judy Collins & Chatham County Line last year. I wrote “Winter’s Night Waltz” and Judy really loved it, but we just had too many great songs for it to make the album. I kept the recording and thought long and hard about who should sing the female part.
After not too long, it was apparent that Lauren would be perfect. The first time I saw The Railsplitters they really blew me away, and I love the charm of By the Lee. I sent her an email and she heard the song and was super excited to sing on it. We spent a day in the studio tracking the vocals, and she just completely nailed it!
This collaboration on “Winter’s Night Waltz” is easily the most exciting thing for my solo career.
NWM 4): You are perhaps best known for your work with Chatham County Line (CCL)—certainly a noteworthy gig—share a couple of highlights from your solo work and other collaborations thus far.
Chandler: I released my debut solo album last year Cover More Ground on a great indie label in North Carolina called Robust Records. Twenty years ago, I never would have thought something like this was possible. I could barely play a tune and never even considered writing a song. This collaboration on “Winter’s Night Waltz” is easily the most exciting thing for my solo career in that we’ve both gone all in on it and it’s been really fun thus far.
NWM 5): Do you anticipate more Chandler/Stovall projects?
Chandler: No plans at this point, but I sure wouldn’t hesitate if the opportunity arises.
Lauren Stovall and Chandler Holt recording “Winter’s Night Waltz” at Vermillion Road Studio | Photo by Eric Wiggs, engineer and owner of Vermillion Road Studio
NWM 6): Would you care to share what led to your leaving CCL, a band you spent a couple of decades of your life with?
Chandler: I spent 20 years living a dream of sorts. I basically never had another job during this time and traveled all over the globe and met so many amazing people and learned so much. Life changes once you have kids and that itch is scratched. I really just wanted to be home more than anything, as well as have the chance to pursue other avenues musically and professionally.
NWM 7): What instrument holds the most fascination for you and do you play it?
Chandler: I bought a 1951 Fender Dual 8 Professional (non pedal) steel. These instruments are used mainly for western swing music. It’s been a daunting pursuit, but I’m absolutely fascinated by western swing and this instrument’s role in it. The people who pioneered this sound and perfected it are some of the most creative and talented musicians ever. To have a steel guitar from this era is really special. It feels like a time machine is sitting in my basement.
The people who pioneered [western swing] and perfected it are some of the most creative and talented musicians ever.
NWM 8): What song/album could you play on repeat?
Chandler: There’s been a few as of late. The Band’s Rock of Ages double live album always seems to resurface as well as The Jayhawk’s Tomorrow the Green Grass. There’s a band out of California called The Coffis Brothers that recently put out a record called In the Cuts that is really brilliant rock. Also love Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert album.
NWM 9): Where were you and what were you doing when you realized COVID-19 had just changed your life as a performance artist?
Chandler: I started a booking agency last year, and it was really exciting getting it off the ground. I wasn’t playing a lot at that time due to the workload of starting a business. All of a sudden, I got a barrage of emails and calls to postpone gigs in March. That later turned into cancellations and we know the rest.
Really a rough time to say the least given that I was hit from both ends. It was honestly way harder to roll with the punches on my roster acts’ behalf because I feel so responsible for helping them make a living and succeed.
NWM 10): What in particular fuels your inspiration? Tell us about your space or what is most necessary for your writing.
Chandler: I really don’t know, honestly. I recently watched that Tom Petty documentary, and he says something to the effect of “I don’t know where my songs come from, and I don’t want to know.” Not to compare myself to the one of the masters, but I feel that way, too. These tunes just pop out at weird times and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. It probably has a lot to do with finding time to sit down and clear your brain?
NWM 11): Favorite Chandler Holt song?
Chandler: There’s a song on my album called “Best of Everything” that people seem to really love. It’s about a fictional Pharaoh in Egypt and how he has it all, and I don’t. I get lots of funny emails and comments about it. Making people forget their troubles is about the best part of performing live.
Making people forget their troubles is about the best part of performing live.
NWM 12):What was your first concert as a fan?
Chandler: I was in 8th grade and one of my friends invited me to tag along with her parents to go see Tom Petty in Charlotte. I was living in a small town in NC called Salisbury at that time. This was the Into the Great Wide Open tour and the album had come out a few weeks before this, and I absolutely was in love with this record. I was so excited, but didn’t even understand what I was going to since I’d never been to a big show. The show was killer to say the least, and Tom Petty was cemented as one of my favorite artists ever.
NWM 13): How do you express your creativity other than through music?
Chandler: I’ve gotten really into drawing as of late. I’m nothing special, but it’s really relaxing, and I can tell it’s activating a different part of my noggin which has to be a good thing? Honestly, music is the vast bulk of it. I love writing songs! I’m able to wring out every drop of creative soul in that pursuit.
Artwork designed by Chandler Holt
NWM 14): Favorite movie?
Chandler: Battered Bastards of Baseball is probably my favorite documentary. If you haven’t seen it, it’s amazing and you’ll love it even if you don’t like baseball.
Kurt Russell’s dad Bing Russell was a huge baseball nut and left Hollywood to start a Single-A minor league ball team in Portland, Oregon. They were the only unaffiliated team meaning they weren’t owned by a MLB franchise. Their only goal was to win instead of develop players for the franchise. The story is totally stranger than fiction and hilarious.
NWM 15): We’re sure there are more names than you have time to list, but who jumps out as the biggest influence on your music or career?
Chandler: There are so many names, but John Hartford is pretty much top of the heap. I love the way he writes and picks the banjo. He’s like a musical Mark Twain.
[John Hartford is] like a musical Mark Twain.
NWM 16): Who might we be surprised to find on your playlist?
Chandler: I recently found this The Monkees album that they made later in the career with The Wrecking Crew. It’s just amazing!
NWM 17): Apart from playing live again, what are you most looking forward to when things return to normal, post-COVID?
Chandler: My son going to school!!!
NWM 18): You have played a number of venues and performances across America and across the Atlantic. What is a favorite venue, performance, or bill on which you have performed?
Chandler: We got to open up Red Rocks a few years ago. That was really exciting. We also got to play on Later…with Jools Holland, which is probably the biggest music only TV show. That was incredible!
NWM 19): What are your before-you-go-on-stage rituals?
Chandler: I was never that great at this to be honest. Nowadays, I just try to find a quiet space and clear my mind. I always play better when I’m not thinking and instead just reacting.
NWM 20): What is one thing you would want our readers to know about which we might not know to ask?
Chandler: I’ve got a few more singles that I hope to release in 2021. Got a couple really fun kids songs. I’ve never put anything like that out. I may even have a comedy bit coming out. Who knows!
Winter's Night Waltz
Written by Chandler Holt
Chandler Holt: Vocals, Banjo
Lauren Stovall: Vocals
Russell Walden: Piano (Judy Collins’ musical director)
Greg Readling: Upright Bass, Pedal Steel (member of Chatham County Line)
John Teer: Mandolin, Fiddle (member of Chatham County Line)
Dave Wilson: Acoustic Guitar (member of Chatham County Line)
Bill Berg: Drums (Legendary session player. Played drums on Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and several other high profile artists’ records.)
Instrumental Tracking at Echo Mountain, Asheville, North Carolina
Engineered by Dowell Gandy
Vocal Tracking at Vermillion Road Studio, Longmont, Colorado
Engineered & Mixed by Eric Wiggs
Mastered by Chris Boerner at Kitchen Mastering, Carrboro, North Carolina
Photo by Lewis Geyer
Chandler Holt is a founding member of Chatham County Line. He has toured extensively across North America and Europe and performed on programs such as the BBC’s Later…with Jools Holland and PBS’s Bluegrass Underground.
To learn more and to buy stuff, visit https://chandlerholtmusic.com/
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